If 'Snowmaggedon 2011' has taught me anything, it's this:
- I can last about 30 hours in my house before I go stir crazy. No, that's not true. I go stir crazy at 24 hours. At 30 hours I must.get.out.of.the.house. Now.
- I am both proud of myself and annoyed with myself for not keeping chocolate in the house. It would have been eaten for breakfast, lunch, and dinner.
- When I'm stir crazy and craving chocolate, I must have comfort food.
For me, today, that was mushroom mac n' cheese in the creamiest, cheesiest sauce and a serving size that I am ashamed of. But, man, was it good.
And, really, mushrooms are good for you. And so is indulging... every now and then.
If you were caught in Snowmaggedon 2011 (which I'm guessing you were considering it covered more than half of the United States) I hope you survived, stayed warm, and indulged in whatever makes you happy.
Mini Mac and 'Shrooms
1 pound mezzi rigatoni
1 stick unsalted butter
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
4 cups whole milk
1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
freshly ground pepper
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 pound wild mushrooms, such as oyster or shitake, stemmed and sliced
4 ounces cremini mushrooms, quartered
8 ounces taleggio or brie cheese, rind removed, cubed (about 1 1/2 cups)
5 ounces pecorino cheese, grated (about 1 1/2 cups)
1/2 cup breadcrumbs
2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil; add the pasta and cook until al dente, about 9 minutes. Drain the pasta, reserving about 1/4 cup cooking water.
Meanwhile, melt 4 tablespoons butter in a large skillet over medium heat. Stir in the flour with a wooden spoon to make a paste. Cook, stirring, until the paste puffs slightly, about 1 minute. Remove from the heat and gradually whisk in the milk until smooth. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat, whisking. Reduce the heat and simmer, whisking occasionally, until the sauce is creamy, 8 to 10 minutes. Add the nutmeg and season with salt and pepper.
Meanwhile, heat 2 tablespoons butter and the olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add half of the mushrooms and cook until soft, about 8 minutes. Season with salt. Push to the side of the pan and repeat with the remaining mushrooms.
Reduce the heat under the sauce to low and whisk in both cheeses until smooth. Stir in the mushrooms and pasta and toss; adding the reserved cooking water as needed.
Melt the remaining 2 tablespoons butter in a skillet over medium heat. Add the breadcrumbs and toast until golden; stir in the parsley. Divide the pasta among 8 small bowls. Garnish with the breadcrumb mixture.
Based on the number of dirty pans and utensils I had, you would think this recipe took me hours to make. It was actually very quick and for that reason, I recommend you have everything prepped before starting. Clean and slice your 'shrooms, cube and grate your cheese. If you do that, you won't forget to brown the breadcrumbs and add some of the pasta water to the sauce. Oh sure, it'll all taste really good, but just think how much better toasty, crunchy breadcrumbs would taste.
Anyhoo... prep. That's all I'm saying.
I used cremini and shitake mushrooms. I'm not sure I've ever cooked with shitake mushrooms before, and I think I prefer cremini. But, that's the beautiful thing about cooking...
... make it your own and Enjoy!